Dirt bikes are motorized bikes designed to be ridden on dirt instead of on streets, instantly recognizable by their knobby tires. There are four basic types of dirt bikes: trail bikes, motocross bikes, dual purpose bikes and minibikes. The best dirt bike for your new teen rider depends on how your teen intends to use the bike. Trail bikes are for wooded trails or sandy areas like beaches or deserts. As these bikes are not intended for street use, they rarely have license plates. Motocross bikes are designed for competition on motocross tracks. As these tracks are partly paved, the tires on motocross bikes are not as knobby as the tires on other dirt bikes. The dual purpose bike is designed to be ridden on both dirt and streets. These bikes have horns and lights so they can be made street-legal with registration and license plates. The last category is the minibike. Minibikes are small lighter dirt bikes that are engineered for young riders and have engines ranging from 2 to 8 horsepower.
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Trail bikes are only for off-road riding. They do not have lights, horns or other features that are necessary to make them street-legal. They have big knobby tires and their engines are mounted high on the bike's frame to protect them on uneven terrain. These bikes are lighter and less powerful than dual purpose and motocross bikes. Although they do not go as fast as the other bikes, women and children like them because they are easier to pick up when they fall over. Recommended models are the 100 to 125 cc trail bikes by Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha.
Motocross bikes are designed for tracks that are part pavement and part dirt. They are high horsepower bikes with two or four stroke engines. The two stroke engines have more "snap" but are more expensive to maintain than the four stroke engines. The four stroke engines also use regular gas while the two stroke engines require that you mix oil with the gas. You should get a motocross bike only if your sole reason for getting a dirt bike is motocross competition. Beginners should consider starting with something else -- even with an unpowered "mountain bike." But if you are getting into dirt bikes for motocross you should get one and take a class. You also may want to take a class in motocross competition to learn the safe way of riding competitively. Recommended models are the 85 to 125 cc motocross bikes by Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki and KTM.
Dual Purpose Bikes
Dual purpose bikes can be ridden comfortably on a paved track or a forest trail. They are tough reliable bikes that require little maintenance, rarely break and are easy to fix. Unfortunately, these big bikes typically have high seats and are not recommended for riders shorter than 5 foot 6 inches. Before buying a bike, make sure you can touch the ground with at least the balls of your feet while you are seated. Recommended models are the 250 cc dual purpose bikes by Kawasaki and Yamaha.
Minibikes are also called pit bikes and pocket bikes. They are small, portable and typically cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000. One important factor to consider is the weight of the rider. Minibikes in the 50 cc class work best for small riders -- those who are well under 100 pounds. As the weight of the rider increases, the size of the bike and its engine should also increase. Recommended minibikes are the KTM 50 cc models for small teens, and the Kawasaki 85 to 100 cc models for bigger teens.